Notable Releases of the Week (4/14)
It's the second weekend of April, and as always, that means Coachella is here (including a last-minute addition: the first performance by blink-182's classic lineup in nearly a decade). For the first time ever, Coachella will be streaming both weekends and all stages, so even if you're not in the desert, you can experience things like the return of Frank Ocean, a sure-to-be-historic Bad Bunny set, a rare Boygenius set, the first-ever Jai Paul set, three of the best hardcore bands around (Soul Glo, Scowl, and Knocked Loose), and much more. Check out the set times.
This week also brought the return of Balance & Composure, and another heaping dose of great new albums. I highlight seven below, and Bill covers even more in Bill's Indie Basement, including artist to watch Pynch, Cindy, Nicole Yun (Eternal Summers), John Vanderslice, Terry, audiobooks, and more.
On top of those, honorable mentions: The Tallest Man on Earth, Poison Ruïn, Fenne Lily, Kara Jackson, Petite Noir, Dinner Party (Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin & friends), defprez (Defcee & CRASHprez), Grafh & 38 Spesh, Frost Children, Dave Okumu & The 7 Generations, Bodywash, Ozmotic & Fennesz, VoidCeremony, Xylouris White, Temples, Natalie Merchant, Overkill, Kid Koala, Sweet Dreams Nadine, Ann-Margret, Robert Earl Keen, Kicksie, Yung Bleu, Life In Vacuum, NLE Choppa, Pi'erre Bourne, Deathgrave, Dying Remains, Ther, Patten, Squid Pisser (Deaf Club, Starcrawler), GoGo Penguin, Brian Dunne, Natural Information Society, Josienne Clarke, The Infinity King, Laveda, Joanthan Bree (ex-Brunettes), Spencer Cullum (ft. Dana Gavanski, Caitlin Rose, Erin Rae & more), Elijah Kessler, Grandbrothers, Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, MC Yallah, the Patrick Wolf EP, the Minor 'Love EP, the Proc Fiskal EP, the Handcuff EP, the SUDS EP, the Babygirl EP, the Sanitizers EP, the Enny EP, the Atreyu EP, the Chat Pile/Nerver split, the Hetta/Alas/Letterbombs/Apostles of Eris split, the Shygirl reworks album (ft. Björk, Arca, Tinashe, Eartheater & more), the Shannon Lay covers album, the Neil Young live albums (The Ducks, The Santa Monica Flyers), and the archival Black Eyes releases.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Feist - Multitudes
For over 20 years, Feist has put out genuinely remarkable music--each album distinctly different than the last--and she's sounded like no one else in the world throughout all of it. Her newest album Multitudes is no exception. Like on its 2017 predecessor Pleasure, the Feist of Multitudes sounds free of expectations, conventions, and trends. There's a close-mic'd, meandering acoustic guitar here, and some primal percussion there. Some moments are fleshed-out, heavily-arranged, and immaculately produced, and other moments feel intimate and entirely unpolished. It's an album that could only come from Feist; her voice and songwriting style remain strong, attention-grabbing, and entirely her own.
Initiate - Cerebral Circus
Triple B Records
California hardcore band Initiate sounded like they were bursting at the seams with ideas on their 2020 EP Lavender, and it all explodes on their new full-length Cerebral Circus, one of the most uniquely appealing hardcore LPs I've heard all year--and it's been a great year for hardcore. Cerebral Circus is full of genre-hopping ideas that Initiate pull off incredibly naturally. On "Waste Your Life," punchy power pop guitars lead right into chuggy hardcore. "Amend" offers up a shoegazy twist on a metallic hardcore breakdown before pivoting to vocalist Crystal Pak screaming over delicate, ballad-driven guitars in a way that hearkens back to '90s screamo. "The Surface" goes from floor-punching hardcore to a soaring, melodic alt-rock chorus without missing a step. Closing track "Transparency" is a post-rock-infused post-hardcore mini-epic that would fit on a Touché Amoré album. There's so much range and depth and beautiful aggression in this album, and it all comes together in a way that's grander than any one or two of these songs could've suggested on their own.
El Michels Affair & Black Thought - Glorious Game
Big Crown Records
30 years into his career, The Roots' lead MC Black Thought remains at the top of his game, and seemingly nothing can stop the creative hot streak he's been on since officially launching his solo career in 2018. His latest album is a collaboration with El Michels Affair, the retro-soul group known who came to prominence after "reverse-engineering" Wu-Tang Clan songs on such albums as Enter The 37th Chamber and Return to the 37th Chamber, and eventually went on to work with Wu-Tang Clan members themselves. For this album, El Michels Affair leader Leon Michels would write and record entire vintage-style soul songs, and then chop up and loop his own music the way hip hop producers like his hero the RZA did back in the day. It's a perfect setting for Black Thought, who came up in that same era and whose voice goes great with dusty soul. On Glorious Game, Thought sounds as athletic as ever, darting around the El Michels Affair instrumentals with curveball rhyme schemes and knockout punchlines. And unlike last year's Danger Mouse-assisted, guest-filled Cheat Codes, no features; just Black Thought commanding the ship and reminding the world he's one of the best to ever do it.
Jesus Piece - ...So Unknown
Jesus Piece drummer Luis Aponte said a big goal on the Philly metalcore band's sophomore album ...So Unknown "was to capture the same energy on record that we have live - for people to get that sense of urgency and danger." The last time I saw them, there was a rogue firebreather in the crowd, so that's no easy feat, but ...So Unknown pulls it off. With futuristic production from Randy Leboeuf (Every Time I Die, The Acacia Strain, etc), ...So Unknown sounds even more towering than Jesus Piece's great 2018 debut LP Only Self, and its machine-gun kick drums and gut-punching palm mutes take me right back to the band's anarchic live show. On top of all the power and chaos, ...So Unknown also pushes the limits of Jesus Piece's songwriting, incorporating elements of industrial and noise into their bone-crushing metalcore, toeing the line between discordance and melody, and experimenting more with their dynamics. ...So Unknown is more than just the second best way to experience Jesus Piece's music; it's a great record that stands on its own.
Angel Olsen - Forever Means EP
Having wholly embraced country on last year's great Big Time, Angel Olsen now returns with four new songs that go in a few different directions--some new for her, others more familiar. The quiet acoustic folk of the title track feels like an update on her earlier material, and the soaring, uplifting Americana rock of "Time Bandits" sounds like something that might've fit on Burn Your Fire For No Witness or My Woman. Those are bookended by opener "Nothing's Free," which sounds like Angel's take on piano-led vocal jazz, and the head-turning closer "Holding On." Angel says the song is "not meant for singing, more for getting lost in," which is "rare in [her] music," and it finds Angel nearly yelling over a pounding, percussive backdrop that finds time for both classic rock guitar heroism and George Martin-esque strings. Throughout all the stylistic leaps, Angel's knack for impactful songwriting and thoughtful lyricism remains at a high. It's a brief EP, but Angel achieves a lot with a little.
Fruit Bats - A River Running To Your Heart
Eric D. Johnson has been in the midst of a resurgence, and he's been more prolific these past few years than he had been in a while, both as a member of Bonny Light Horseman and as the leader of his long-running Fruit Bats project, which he re-activated in the late 2010s after a hiatus. His latest Fruit Bats album, A River Running To Your Heart, is his tenth overall and the first that he self-produced. It's a warm, welcoming record, with propulsive heartland rock anthems that echo Tom Petty, Dire Straits, and "Touch of Grey," alongside gentle, kaleidoscopic folk songs. Eric's melodies light up the record like a hot, sunny day, and his voice sounds as pristine as ever.
Metallica - 72 Seasons
Ever since Metallica's widely hated St. Anger (which turns 20 this year! meaning it's now as old as Kill 'Em All was when it came out! crazy!), Metallica have been leaning into rehashed versions of their classic '80s thrash material. They did it on Death Magnetic, and again on Hardwired... to Self-Destruct, and 72 Seasons is more of the same. It's basically Metallica on autopilot, but it's still Metallica, so there are some riffs and solos and James Hetfield howls that scratch the itch of this band's best records, and it's still performed with the power and precision that Metallica bring to their still-amazing live shows. It won't outrage people like St. Anger did, but it also doesn't do anything that the first five records don't do better.
Read Bill's Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Pynch, Cindy, Nicole Yun (Eternal Summers), John Vanderslice, Terry, audiobooks, and more.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or scroll down for previous weeks.
Looking for a podcast to listen to? Check out our new episodes with Fat Mike of NOFX and Braid.